Sure, people are excited to hear new Japandroids songs, but they’re also there to hear those old jams too. That’s what they paid 20 dollars to see, you know? You play ‘House That Heaven Built’ and people lose their fucking minds and then you play this new song and they’re just kind of standing there. It is a weird situation when you’re trying to move past what you’ve done and hopefully bring all those people with you along for the ride.
BY JAMIE ROBASH
After releasing two solid arena rock-sized records chock full of head-banging, youth-angst anthems about getting drunk and falling in and out of love — while touring those records pretty much nonstop for nearly four years — Vancouver duo Japandroids took a brief breather before commencing work on their newly minted record, the more mature-sounding but equally fun Near to the Wild Heart of Life. Chicago INNERVIEW spoke to drummer Dave Prowse about this latest chapter in the ever-evolving Japandroids history.
Chicago INNERVIEW: It’s been nearly five years since the release of the last record Celebration Rock. Was the hiatus deliberate?
David Prowse: We finished touring Celebration Rock in November 2013 and we were both pretty drained. At that point it had basically been about five years straight of constantly going and we were both pretty drained. It was time to take a step back and just chill out for a second. We took about six months off, maybe less, and then we just spent a really long time making the new record.
Chicago INNERVIEW: Was the writing and recording process for Near To the Wild Heart of Life different than the first two records?
David Prowse: Wildly different. I think we were consciously trying to avoid repeating ourselves. The idea was, ‘Where can we go from here that doesn’t just sound like Celebration Rock part two?’ There was a lot more time to reflect on what we were doing, a lot more sending ideas back and forth to each other, working on things separately and then getting together. The song ‘Arc of Bar’, Brian wrote all of the lyrics for before there was even a lick of music, which is something we’d never done before. So we had to work backwards to figure out some music that suited the lyrics. Then there were songs like ‘I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)’ which came together spontaneously in the studio.
CI: Has it been challenging to play these new songs live?
DP: A little bit…There’s some question of how true to the album do you have to be. We haven’t had to worry too much about that during the few shows we’ve played already because no one’s heard the songs before. Nobody knows how it’s supposed to sound. But now that the record’s coming out, it’ll be a more pertinent question. I’ve been that guy who falls in love with a way a record sounds and then I get really bummed out when I go to the show and it doesn’t really sound the same live.
CI: How does it feel to play the old material alongside the new stuff?
DP: It was a bit surreal when we first started playing those old songs again. We spent so much time focusing on these new jams. We didn’t even play for fun songs like ‘House That Heaven Built’ for two-plus years. It’s fun though to play those old songs because people responded so strongly to our music. It’s such a powerful thing. So now the challenge is to strike a balance between playing the new material that we’re really excited about and sure, people are excited to hear new Japandroids songs, but they’re also there to hear those old jams too. That’s what they paid 20 dollars to see, you know? You play ‘House That Heaven Built’ and people lose their fucking minds and then you play this new song and they’re just kind of standing there. [laughs] It is a weird situation when you’re trying to move past what you’ve done and hopefully bring all those people with you along for the ride.